Angolans are voting a new president for the first time in 38 years
One of the richest and long-serving African presidents Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, disclosed last year that he was stepping down after a 38 year rule. Dos Santos, 74, is the second-longest serving African president following closely behind Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Uncertainty in the Dos Santos Dynasty
Following Dos Santos shocking withdrawal from the presidential race in 2016, he pledged to retain control of his powerful ruling party People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and knighted current Defence Minister Joao Lourenco as the party’s presidential frontrunner.
His decision to remain president of the ruling party gives him absolute control to choose members of parliament and appoint top posts in the army and security apparatus.
Despite its oil wealth, most of Angola’s 22 million people live in poverty. The country is Africa’s third largest economy but a collapse in oil prices triggered a full-scale national economic crisis, leading critics to accuse Dos Santos of mismanaging Angola’s wealth and creating economic opportunities specifically for his family and political allies.
His daughter, Isabel dos Santos, richest woman in Africa by Forbes —was appointed last year as head of the state oil company, Sonangol, while his son, Jose Filomeno, is chairman of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund.
Ultimately, his decision to remain in power without the presidential title gives him ample opportunity to pursue a legacy plan with family members retaining control of key financial institutions in the country.
9 million registered voters of their 22 million population will head to the polls to vote for new presidential candidates, the first time in 38 years. 18 is the eligible age to vote. The major parties are People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). Currently, MNLA has majority seats in parliament, followed by UNITA.
Opposition parties are working hard to defeat the ruling party at the polls. Following what would be competitive elections, the victorious party will need to work on gaining the confidence of citizen’s after results are declared. First priority will be in targeting institutionalized corruption among Angola’s elite. Despite its immense wealth, inequality remains an existential problem with much of its development situated in Luanda, the capital city.